As China fights to keep the spread of the coronavirus in check, it has turned to drones to help keep its citizen compliant with quarantine procedures — in a move that may strike readers as deeply dystopian, or profoundly pragmatic.
“Staying at home is contributing to society”, a drone operator tells people in this video shared by China’s Global Times, which shows speaker equipped drones flying around rural and urban areas issuing personalised warnings.
Walking around without a protective face mask? Well, you can't avoid these sharp-tongued drones! Many village and cities in China are using drones equipped with speakers to patrol during the #coronavirus outbreak. pic.twitter.com/ILbLmlkL9R
In the video we see an elderly lady being castigated as the drone tells her “You shouldn’t walk around without wearing a mask”
Another operator dresses down a man working in a snow covered field telling him that he should do the work in a few days: “Don’t laugh”, the operator says: “Now get on your cart and go home immediately.”
Thanks to its arm’s length nature drone technology has been used to assess the damage and view empty streets in some of the more heavily infected areas in China by media and government alike.
In some places there are reports of industry drones – normally used to spray pesticides on crops – being used by towns to spray disinfectant across wide areas in an attempt to hold back the virus.
Chinese gadget review site Gizchina has detailed how some villages have re-purpose drones used for farming to help spray disinfectant around the village.
There are also reports of more official disinfectant campaigns as captured by citizen who have uploaded footage of numerous drones spraying towns with liquid.
Use of Robotic Technology
In both the US and China, health officials are using robots to treat infected patients in a manner that protects healthcare workers by reducing physical contact with the sick.
While many will see these images as the start of a dystopian type of population control, the fact that robotic and drone technology could be instrumental in containing viral outbreaks like this – now and in the future – can not be ignored.
Note: Computer Business Review was not able to independently confirm that the drone footage is genuine. The Global Times, however, is part of the Chinese Communist Party’s People’s Daily and its Twitter account is verified.